A Reed Shaken by the Wind
Travels among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq
Area of interest: Iraq
Genre: Islamic Interest, Travel
Date of first publication: 1957
Eland publication date: January 10, 2003
The Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq were one of the most isolated communities in the world. Few outsiders, let alone Europeans, had been permitted to travel through their homeland, a mass of tiny islands lost in a wilderness of reeds and swamps in southern Iraq.
One of the few trusted outsiders was the legendary explorer, Wilfred Thesiger, who was Gavin Maxwell's guide to the intricate landscape, tribal customs and distinctive architecture of the Marsh Arabs. Thesiger's skill with a medicine chest and rifle assured them a welcome in every hamlet, and Maxwell's training as a naturalist and writer has left an invaluable record of a unique community and a vanished way of life.biography of Gavin Maxwell
extract from A Reed Shaken by the Wind
"Film critic Antonia Quirke and actor Kerry Shale talk to Harriett Gilbert about their favourite books, which are wildly varied: a graphic novel, a travel book and a collection of short poems.Kerry Shale talks about Blankets, a poignant memoir drawn and written by Craig Thompson.
Antonia's choice is a less well-known book by the author of Ring of Bright Water. It's A Reed Shaken by the Wind: Travels among the Marsh Arabs of Iraq by Gavin Maxwell.
Harriett Gilbert's recommendation is Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems, edited by Simon Armitage."
BBC Radio 4, A Good Read
"It is not too much to say that the author has produced an almost perfect book of travel."
"This is prose close to poetry, written by a man of great perception and understanding."
W.O.Doulgas, New York Times
"Maxwell's account of his travels in 1955 with Wilfred Thesiger through the marshlands of Southern Iraq is a masterpiece…Maxwell describes a society that has now disappeared, but which fortunately for us he recorded in all his nobility, richness and essential vigour."
Good Book Guide